Waterhouse hails heroine Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has left an indelible mark on people wherever she goes around the world, ever since she announced herself on to the international scene at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
She has inspired and touched the lives of many Jamaicans whether directly or indirectly, but none more than the people in her native Waterhouse, St Andrew, community, who see her as the heroine who can do no wrong. On the track, she has won a plethora of gold medals including back-to-back 100m Olympic titles (2008, 2012), four World Championships 100m titles (2009, 2013, 2015 and 2019) as well as several 4x100m relay titles. However, it is her philanthropic work off the track where the Wolmerian has seemed to make the most impact on people in her hometown.
She has hosted a football competition in her community for many years, which has galvanised unity among warring factions. She also held several back-to-school treats for the children as well as awarded academic scholarships via her Pocket Rocket Foundation.
"It is a major impact, enuh, what Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce has done and is doing for Waterhouse. Without the competition playing for the last two years, you can see that a lot of crimes are taking place. So that goes to show you the kind of impact that one tournament has had," said Kemar Rodney, 34, who has won several of the past competitions.
"The competition meant a lot to me personally because it exposed me to the world through her social media platforms. It kept my fitness and it also made walking in the lane a peaceful venture, as simple as this may sound. She is an icon to Waterhouse and we all look up to her," Rodney added.
On Wednesday, THE STAR ventured into the community which is known for its music and sports. But the athletics fever may not be at its usual high temperature compared to yesteryears. Mark Shirley, who also applauded the 35-year-old super mom for her philanthropy, said that the vibes will pick up drastically when the diminutive sprinter sits in the block to compete at the World Championships.
"White Lane, Ashoka Road, Penwood Road all a dem soon erupt when she touch the track. Waterhouse is a community weh have a lot of stars. We have stars like Irvino English, Demar Phillips who play for the national [football] team, but Shelly is our star. She mean a lot to me kids and so she mean a lot to me and every adults. She is the queen for Waterhouse," he said.
He also expressed confidence that Fraser-Pryce will maintain her winning mentality.
"Wi know say a gold she a go fah and wi deh yah behind her. What me wah she know is that what she has done for Waterhouse, pon the track, pon the field, weh she keep the football and the likkle treats dem a year time, prevent nuff bad things from happening in a Waterhouse," he said.
His sentiments were echoed by Melissa Powell, one of Fraser-Pryce's former neighbours, who is also positively impacting Waterhouse via her home-based school programme.
"Shelly is the inspiration for so many people in Waterhouse. The kids know her well. She is well-loved. They reference her successes on and off the track and it is really a pleasing feeling to be a part of this community which she has been representing so well over these years on the big stages," she said.
Powell says she is expecting a gold medal from Fraser-Pryce despite stiff competition from her compatriots, the reigning double-sprint Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah and national sprint-double champion Shericka Jackson.
"What is to expect? She is not called the 'Pocket Rocket' for nothing, enuh. Straight gold wi say!" exclaimed Powell.
The World Championships will take place from July 15-24 in Eugene, Oregon, in the US.